Fancy Creek State Park, Randolph, KS
Hitting this trail may have been the biggest positive surprise in all my years of mountain biking. Right smack in the middle of the massive geographic monotony that is the American Great Plains rises the so-called Flint HIlls. While not what we would think of as “mountains,” the Flint Hills put forth enough elevation change to get the heart rate up and they, surprisingly, are downright rocky. What’s more, the Flint Hills toss in some dense forest, an oasis of green in the midst of the treeless expanse that surrounds them.
The state of Kansas has set aside part of these hills as a state park, and mountain bikers are the beneficiaries of this largely ignored terrain. The mileage offered is anything but epic at Fancy Creek, but the unique surroundings and the high quality, often challenging singletrack are most welcome. The dense woods offer some relief from summer heat, and the trail system reaches a local high spot, offering a million-mile view of the prairie expanse beyond. If I lived in eastern Kansas, I’d be making my way to these trails every chance I got.